"Like yourself. Love yourself, yes, but really LIKE yourself."
Those words were written to me a few days ago by a special friend. The kind of friend who you don’t see on a regular basic, but when you get together, that person knows how to speak to your soul. My friend was in the middle of reading my book Live Your Playlist and I suppose something that she read prompted her to write those words to me. They are simple, yet profound words. And on that particular autumn day, when the sun was shining in the fall sky and the leaves were dancing to their own playlist above my head, tears streamed down my face as I read her letter. Those simple words suddenly felt heavy, as I knew there were many layers of depth and history that go into liking oneself.
LIKE yourself. I hadn’t thought about that concept in a long time. I can’t be sure I’ve ever asked myself that question... Do I like myself? The reactionary answer is to say yes. But to like yourself and to love yourself are very different feelings. And so with my daily iced tea and laptop in tow, I set out to ponder those two words... Like Yourself.
As fate played a role in this story, my friend’s email came on the very day that I wasn’t feeling great about myself. We all have those days. Some consider it their own personal pity party, others like to call it “whine night” (meaning, a bottle of wine and a box of tissues), while others torture themselves with a marathon viewing of “The Notebook” and Adele songs on repeat. I chose to sit in my car in silence, with intermittent sobs and conversations with myself. I suppose there was something comforting about being cocooned in a small space with the ability to be still or move quickly with one movement of the gear selector. I didn’t feel like I had control of my emotions, so I certainly needed to be in control of something. “Park” and “Drive” was the best I could do in that moment. After sitting in the car for 30 minutes with an overheated bum from my seat warmer, a soggy Kleenex (because I only had one in my purse), and a full bladder from the 16 oz. beverage I sucked down, I rushed home to pull myself together. As I was cleaning up in the bathroom, I came face to face with that person I was contemplating whether or not I liked. Myself.
On any given day, our reflection can change. Some days, we look happy. Other days, we look sad. Some days we have a good hair day, and other days we’re glad no one woke up laying next to us (or we’re sorry for the one who did). On this day, I was looking at a girl with her hair pulled back in a curly ponytail (like when she was in high school), glazed over eyes (from her own tears, not the Visine drops), and dressed in an oversized sweatshirt that read “American Rebel.” Such irony that I chose a shirt that completely mislabeled me. As I stared at myself, I acknowledged that I lacked the strength to rise up and rebel against the feelings that knocked me down - self doubt and uncertainty. I needed a makeover! And I needed one fast!
This makeover could not be fixed with bronzer, lip plumper, or a designer sweater. It was deeper than that... self doubt and uncertainty always are. I was struggling with some personality traits that are as much a part of me as my O Positive blood type and Mediterranean complexion. We all have a part of our personality DNA that cannot be changed. It can be improved, tweaked, worked on in therapy, and sometimes even treated with medication. But it’s still a part of who we are. Me? I’m alpha, stubborn, and tenacious. Some might say I dwell or harp upon issues, and my mother tells me that I can be “cutting with my words.” That last one is definitely something I’ve been working on for the past few years. Saying hurtful things to others does not have to be a permanent personality trait. Throw in a few quirks here and there, and that about sums up the list in my negative column. Or is that assessment unfair? Do I really have “bad personality DNA”? Do any of us? Or is it only bad because someone else said it was?
On this day, my slump was happening because someone I cared about pointed out my personality flaws. I already knew what they were. It’s like telling a woman she needs to lose 10 pounds. Trust me, you don’t need to tell her. She already knows. This friend was not purposely trying to be hurtful. It was a spirited discussion of sorts. But nonetheless, it left me questioning myself and wondering whether or not I could be embraced for all that is ME. And so, as the salty tears dried on my face, I assessed myself... Yes, an alpha personality can be read as controlling or bossy, but it can also represent a person who knows what they want. Tenacity may seem annoying at times, but you’ll rarely find a tenacious quitter. Being stubborn is often associated with a person who is unwilling to compromise, but it can also be the trait of a person who fights for what they believe in. Maybe my sweatshirt was right? Maybe I really am an “American Rebel?” I knew one thing for sure... below the layers of occasional self doubt and uncertainty was a fighter. I knew how to mentally fight for myself. And we never want to the lose that kind of fight.
So back to the initial question... Do I like myself? I went back to reading my friend’s letter. After she told me to LIKE myself, she wrote, “... there’s a lot to like and if you do, you’ll find yourself in very good company.” I smiled at those words. And then I smiled at my reflection. I could see the fighter in my eyes.
Do you like yourself? I hope that you do. Even with your so-called flaws. When you like yourself, you’ll attract the kind of people who will embrace all of YOU. Smile at yourself. Find the rebel inside. And never lose the fighter.